Square on Carter postponed by state bond commission

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 18, 2015

VIDALIA — Plans for the City of Vidalia’s proposed “The Square on Carter” project won’t go before the state bond commission this month.

The project — a $7 million, 65-acre proposed retail, residential and office development — was originally on the agenda for the bond commission’s Thursday meeting, but was pulled earlier this month because State Treasurer John Kennedy had questions about it. Kennedy said at the time he was open to placing it back on the agenda if his questions were satisfactorily answered in time.

The treasurer said Tuesday he’d met with the mayor and his team last week and had “a good meeting,” but said he still had questions that needed to be answered.

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“I asked them to provide me with more information about the value of the property, to give us specifically what entities are looking at investing in the new development — what commercial properties, developers, what residential builders,” Kennedy said.

“We wanted to know ‘How do you know what companies are coming in?’ Usually when you do a large-scale development like this, you tie people in on leases before you buy the land.”

Kennedy said he also wanted some specificity about the property itself.

“What we want to be assured of is what is the price of the land, (because) they don’t have a price, just an appraisal,” he said. “The market will usually determine what the accurate price of the land is rather than an appraisal, but they can’t say what the land will be sold for. I understood the land had been for sale before, and wanted to know what price.”

Kennedy said he likewise wants to meet with the city’s consultant who is putting the plan together.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he had no comment on the matter until a decision is made by the treasurer’s office.

The proposed site for the center is two separate but adjacent parcels of land near the western end of town, 31.67 acres owned by Scroggins Investment Company and 32.72 acres owned by BCHT, LLC.

Copeland was at one time a partner in BCHT with Bryant Hammett, H.L. Irvin and Mark Taunton, but since 2010 Copeland, Irvin and Taunton have held no ownership stake in the LLC. Copeland has said because of his past ownership of the property he has had no part in the planning of the proposal.

Documents submitted to the bond commission say the Scroggins acreage was appraised at $741,000, while the BCHT land was appraised at $3,775,000.